The Annual Super Bowl of shopping

November 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s almost time for the annual Super Bowl of shopping – Black Friday v. Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is the age-old powerhouse with a solid ground game – relying on shoppers who need to get into the mix, handle the merchandise, and plot a steady drive from store opening to store opening.

Upstart Cyber Monday has come on strong in recent years with its passing game, drawing on shoppers who prefer to survey the whole field, identify the best option and expect the selected receiver to deliver the goods.

Last year, upward of $12 billion was spent on Black Friday & Cyber Monday combined. In spite of a stagnating economy, Black Friday sales surprised most prognosticators by increasing 6.6 percent over 2010 to $11.4 billion. Cyber Monday sales set a record by increasing a whopping 22 percent over 2010 to $1.3 billion.

While Black Friday clearly still rules the rivalry, there are pros and cons to both. Shopping online often means having greater variety, plus avoiding crowds, lines, traffic and the search for parking. Shopping in-store, on the other hand, allows you to examine a product in person, and there are no shipping fees.

Whichever your preference, there are infinite apps to help. Some free ones: the Cyber Monday & Black Friday apps allow browsing by category and viewing local ads; the Red Laser app scans barcodes to compare prices at nearby stores; TGI Black Friday and Shopping by The Find offer searches for major retailers and shopping lists with alerts.

A few other tips can help make the most of your gift giving. To budget wisely, make a list that includes everyone you want to remember, from mom to the mailman, along with a spending limit for each – including cash gifts. Do your research ahead, especially for big-ticket items, so when the deals are published you’ll know which offer the best quality for the price. Online shoppers, remember when you see “https” in the url of a transaction page, the “s” denotes a secure site.

Finally, keep in mind these aren’t the only days for great deals. Many retailers offer as-good or better sales after Thanksgiving weekend. Some online dealers waive shipping fees during the season, and more do so on Free Shipping Day – Dec. 17 this year (freeshippingday.com).

When it comes to post-Thanksgiving shopping, what’s your preference, and why? Tell us on Facebook.

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